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Will we know our loved ones in heaven?

Weekly Q&A

Will we know our loved ones in heaven?
Posted on August 24, 2021  - By Dr. Scott Shiffer

Will we know each other in heaven? I recently lost my mum and the grief is unbearable on some days. I know that the Bible says there will be no tears or sorrow in heaven, which is great. But what I specifically want to know is: will we recognise our loved ones in heaven? Will we know them and will they know us? Will we remember all of our shared experiences here on earth when we meet on the other shore?

Dear Christian, we are very sorry for your loss. We pray you find rest in the sufficiency of God’s grace, the sweetness of His presence, and the surety of His resurrection. And we hope that this answer, to some extent, will soothe your heart.

What the Bible says

When David lost his son, an infant only a few days old, he stated that he would go to him after his death (2 Samuel 12:23). We read of the souls of the martyrs in heaven asking God when He will bring justice to the world (Revelation 6:9–10). These martyrs seemingly have their earthly memories intact. They know what injustices they endured for the gospel, while alive on earth. On the cross, Jesus tells the thief that he will join him in paradise that day, suggesting that they will be together and aware of who one another is (Luke 23:43).

While we don’t get a lot of details about our state in eternity, the Bible never suggests that we will not retain our memories — or that we will not recognize one another. Instead, we see rich imagery of heaven — that it is like the Garden — pure and good — and like a city — a place where community thrives. 

Redeemed humanity will live productive lives, void of the inclination to do that which is outside of God’s will

The imagery of New Jerusalem makes it clear that the eternal state will involve more than merely singing 24/7. Redeemed humanity will live productive lives, void of the inclination to do that which is outside of God’s will. 

That is why there are no tears, and no more pain associated with trouble, strife, or other ailments that plague us now — including death. Death is the last enemy of God to be destroyed. 

Community in heaven

In the eternal state, I believe we will know one another, become associated with Christians who have died in the past, and have fellowship with all believers in the direct presence of God for eternity. We will have responsibilities, jobs to do, and we will do them all in a manner void of sin. This means that our work in heaven will not involve toil and strife.

So yes, while the Bible never explicitly says so, I believe we will recognize everyone we knew here in heaven, I believe that the texts we do have point to this. 

Jesus, in His resurrection, received a new body, but he was still the same person. In the same way, we will remain ourselves when we get our new bodies. Unlike now, we will simply no longer be inclined towards sin. 

We will finally, in our new bodies, be able to live in a manner that glorifies God in all that we think, say, and do. We will know one another and be reunited with our loved ones who went before us.

Dr. Scott Shiffer

About Dr. Scott Shiffer

Dr. Scott Shiffer has a Ph.D. in Christian Theology from the B.H. Carroll Theological Institute and has been teaching religion classes since 2006. He leads Faith and Culture Now, an organization to help believers think biblically about culture in America. Scott has given numerous presentations, including one at Oxford. He has spoken at church retreats, youth retreats, conferences, and has taught discipleship classes for many years. Scott is married and has four children. He has a heart for helping believers draw closer to God and for aiding them as they are faced with new challenges every day.



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